Joe and I started an organic Paleo baby food company after deciding we wanted to have a baby someday. A year later we were married, and I immediately got pregnant! After the test results came back positive, we looked at each other, and Joe said, “Now what do we do”? I shrugged knowing that I’m a total nerd about most things and knew I would do my research. Joe and I both wanted to learn as much as we could to create a safe, natural and totally Paleo pregnancy.
Paleo Pregnancy Nutrition
When my mom got pregnant with me, she was a vegetarian because in the 70’s that was considered the healthiest way to eat. However, she couldn’t know that my body doesn’t tolerate wheat or dairy, which were staples of her vegetarian diet. I was born early and had a lifetime of immune and digestion problems until I discovered Paleo. So I decided to follow the optimal diet for a Paleo pregnancy and give my baby the best start possible!
If you think eating Paleo is hard, try doing it while pregnant! Nausea, constant hunger, junk food cravings, heartburn, and a shrinking stomach present challenges. The best things I found to combat morning sickness during the first trimester were constant snacking and the very non-PaleoPreggie Pop Drops containing vitamin B6. I also relaxed my standards and ate outside the strict Paleo box when needed. Some lifesavers were cauliflower crust pizza, gluten free English muffins, and Nuthins. Joe was awesome about keeping Paleo snacks around me all the time and doing all the cooking when the smells made me nauseated.
Whole30’sHealthy Mama Happy Baby Program gave me some great guidelines for diet planning. They offer simple worksheets outlining what foods to include and what to avoid. And even a whole section on “Food as Medicine”, which shows how to use diet to treat common pregnancy-related health problems. I also loved theBetter Baby Book written by Lana Asprey, the wife of Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey, that has tons of tips and Paleo recipes. Lily Nichols’Real Food for Pregnancy is another amazing pregnancy resource that covers much more than just food.
Here are just a few best diet practices:
Moving My Body
The birthing process is hard on the body. Duh. And a lot of women’s complications come from sheer exhaustion. So I decided I wanted to train for it, like I would for a big race. TheBirthFit program was designed by chiropractor/crossfit trainer/birth doula, Lindsey Matthews, to help couples prepare physically and mentally. I work with a BirthFit trainer at a gym weekly on a modified workout routine. Joe and I also attended a BirthFit weekend workshop and learned safe and effective positions and practices we can both use to endure and enjoy the birth experience.
Relaxing to the Max
Stress is the enemy of pregnancy. We’re wired for survival first and making babies second, so if our body thinks we’re in danger, it diverts resources away from our fetus. Our body doesn’t know that we’re just stressed because we’re trying to meet a deadline, it thinks we might be being chased by a bear!
I have put a lot of attention (as has Joe) on keeping me de-stressed. This is hard because I’m a bit type-A, and I usually handle the details like budgeting, taxes, plane tickets, etc. But suddenly in pregnancy all of these tasks seem harder (thank you mommy brain :-/), so we’ve been transitioning to Joe handling as much as possible. I’ve also had to get better at setting boundaries with my family! I learned to say, “I’m feeling stressed right now” and ask them nicely to do something different. Most importantly, I’ve increased my self-care: prenatal yoga, baths, meditation, massages, acupuncture, walks, novels and movies in bed!
Being pregnant during the summer in Texas means….ITS HOT! I sweat everywhere, all the time! I’ve taken to being naked as much as possible (Joe’s favorite part of this adventure), and wear myO2 Cool cooling towel around my neck which cools me for hours when wet. I keep the AC cranked, and take many cold baths and showers, and I carry around myYeti Tumbler filled with ice and electrolyte water. When I’m totally melting, I make a Paleo slushie by blending ice,electrolyte powder, cherry juice, vanilla, salt, and water. Cools me down instantly! We also got aChilli Pad for our bed (best invention ever). It regulates surface temperature of our mattress by circulating water through little tubes. It can be set anywhere from 50 to 105 degrees! This has saved my sleep- and my electricity bill.
Love My Chiropractor
Turns out the stats on regular chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy, birth and postpartum are staggering. We found a chiropractor that specializes in moms and babies and it has made a HUGE difference in my overall physical comfort. Despite being a 41-year old first time mom, I don’t really have any pain at 8 months pregnant. My feet hurt if I stand on hard surfaces for too long, and it took me a while to find a comfortable sleeping position. But that’s about it.
My Amazing Partner
Shout out to the single pregnant women! I’m in awe of you, because I have relied heavily on Joe to do everything from cooking, to paying the bills, to picking up something I dropped on the floor. I am blessed that he is so eager and willing to help, but it’s hard for me to let him do it! And to not micromanage him when he does. As women, we’re taught to run the household and to serve others. Pushing myself to let him take care of me has been essential and has created a more meaningful experience for us to share. He likes supporting our baby by taking care of me! He talks about the ways we’ve found for him to participate in his amazing blog postHow to be a Rockstar Pregnant Dad.
The Spiritual Side
Pregnancy and birth are among the most natural experiences we can have as women. It can also be incredibly unpredictable, confusing, and scary. A key part of the process for both Joe and myself is to learn to trust, relax, and surrender. I have to constantly remind myself that all the strange physical sensations and health quirks are just part of being pregnant and nothing to worry about. I trust that my body knows what it’s doing and is strong enough to get me there.
Instead of freaking out when I put a stamp on the wrong side of an envelope or wondering why I suddenly need to eat an enormous amounts of protein, I just think, “It’s probably just because I’m pregnant”. That mantra has kept me sane all these months! Definitely better than googling every time something is weird. I’m hoping to carry this relaxed attitude throughout my Paleo pregnancy, birthing process, and into postpartum. I want to let my baby come whenever and however she is meant to. Joe and I are both striving to trust my intuition in every moment, and be fully in it together.